Saturday, November 20, 2010

Lectio Divina with Color Doodles

I have been beginning to prepare for a study about the incarnated Christian, and bought some new books this past week, including Praying in Color by Sybil MacBeth. Last night I spent some time in contemplative doodling. Here are some samples:

I don't know whether these were prayers as as we usually think of prayer, but they do seem to be the visual version of "sighs and groans too deep for words." The falling leaf, the acorn, the red tornado and each of the others must have some meaning in or description of my life and thoughts and yearnings.

My cycle of Psalms reading this morning brought me to Psalm 119:17-24. The verse that caught my attention was "Open my eyes to the beauty of your law." (Using The Psalter: A faithful and inclusive rendering published by Liturgical Training Publications.)

So I thought that I might try to doodle/pray in color through a meditation on this verse.

The first thing that came to mind was eyes, so I tried to draw a pair of eyes. Tried is the operative verb. Eyes are hard to draw. So I reminded myself that this was doodling and started over with a fresh piece of paper. Doodling is much easier—no pressure. MacBeth comments on the need to let go of the "shoulds" in doing this, and enter into a spirit of playfulness and delight. I decided that the color of open eyes would be my focus. My eyes are a mutable green and blue, so those were the colors I pulled out. Lectio divina calls for an iterative reading and so after each reading of the verse I doodled again.

On second reading I thought that perhaps beauty could be captured in color and I drew a rainbow prism of color.

Then I wondered about what law: law of gravity, law of nature? Perhaps God's law is God's covenant of steadfast love? It's not man's law.

My final meditation was on open, rather than closed. Here is the end result:

Yes--this is a spiritual practice! My spirit has been engaged during both doodling sessions in contemplation and reflection about God, nature, and meaning. It is also quite soothing, and even delightful to be pulling out a colored pen and letting my hand lead my brain.

Delight is something to cherish, and MacBeth emphasizes that as she quotes the Psalmist:

I delight to do Your will, O my God, And Your law is within my heart." Psalm 40:8

So, grab some crayons or colored pens or pencils, and a piece of paper and pray in color today. Take delight in your hands and into your heart.

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